Michael Druz: For El Salvador, 1984 brought the first free and fair presidential election won by a civilian in 52 years. The winner, a moderate named José Napoleَn Duarte, had campaigned on a platform to clean up human-rights abuses and push forward economic reforms. With Duarte's victory, the Army allowed a handful of right-wing officers linked to death-squad activity to be removed from key commands.
The U.S. Congress, impressed with Duarte's democratic credential, boosted military aid to El Salvador to $196 million. Duarte and the country's leftist guerrillas sat down for their first serious peace talks on how to end a five-year-old civil war; but at year's end, they remained far apart on the issues.
Fighting continued through 1984 in Nicaragua, where the leftist Sandinista Government solidified its five-year grip on power by staging elections that President Reagan called 'a sham'. The U.S.-backed Nicaraguan guerrillas, known as Contras, continued to snipe at the Sandinista, even though their CIA money was cut off by the U.S. Congress.
And the Reagan Administration came under the fire of world opinion with revelations that the CIA had sponsored the mining of Nicaraguan harbors and had produced a training manual for the Contras advocating the assassination of Sandinista leaders.
Looking toward 1985, most observers say they expect the peace initiative begun by Duarte in El Salvador to continue and that, with U.S. backing, a regional peace accord through the so-called Contadora Group could become untracked; but at the same time, Central America remains a powder keg where certain developments, like the introduction of advanced Soviet aircraft into Nicaragua, could spark a superpower showdown.
Michael Druz, San Salvador.
Bob Berger: For two weeks this past summer, the entire nation and much of the world were captivated by a gathering of athletes in a city in Southern California; but this was no ordinary track meet, it was the Olympic Games. Though these games of the Los Angeles Olympics were robbed of many of the world's finest athletes, they were a huge success athletically, artistically and financially; however, when the flame was extinguished and the Olympics bid farewell to the smog-covered city still basking in the glory of it all, there was a dark cloud hanging overhead. In this era of boycotts and billion-dollar Olympics, is there a future for this greatest of sporting events? Will there be a games of the 24th Olympiad, scheduled for Seoul, South Korea in 1988?
Peter Ueberroth was the man who put together the Los Angeles Games …
Peter Ueberroth: "It's an athletic event, let's return it out of the world of politics to the best we can -- we'll never completely do that -- but try and make an athletic event again. There may be a need in the future to say, 'Remember how Los Angeles did it? It worked, it was inexpensive, and the athletes loved it.'"
Bob Berger: And we, the spectators, were left with breathtaking opening and closing ceremonies: Carl Lewis's Jesse Owens-like performance; the engaging smile of gymnast Mary Lou Retton; the emotion-packed victory of wrestler Jeff Blatnick; the graceful strides of Joaquim Cruz; the tears of Mary Decker; and the power of swimmer Michael Gross to catalog these Olympic memories that won't soon fade. Then, too, there was an outpouring of patriotism seldom seen these days.
I'm Bob Berger.
Flip Webb: Daily demonstrations have been taking place outside the South African Embassy since the day before Thanksgiving. Along with the daily protests, prominent national leaders have been offering themselves for arrest to dramatize the issue …
Unknown Speaker: "We are advising you to disperse."
Randall Robinson: "Thank you, but I really -- I really don't think we can."
Flip Webb: Randall Robinson is the Director of the Congressional lobby TransAfrica and one of the organizers of the Free South Africa Movement. He explains why so many are demonstrating …
Randall Robinson: "And we've taken this action to demand a … a change in the behavior of the South African Government specifically, to demand a … a change in American policy towards South Africa."
Flip Webb: The demonstrators had been critical of the Reagan Administration's policy of constructive engagement in dealing with the South Africa question. The President says he's been using quiet diplomacy in the matter, and when the Pretoria Government released some political dissidents the President took credit …
President Ronald Reagan: "This is the result of, since their arrest, three weeks of work that we have put in in what I told you was quiet diplomacy, and today it bore through and they're released."
Flip Webb: Some of those released were later rearrested on other charges, and Washington, D.C. Delegate Walter Fontray promised the protests would continue …
Delegate Walter Fontray: "Day after day you're gonna see leaders in this country coming forward to offer themselves for arrest."
Flip Webb: Meanwhile, there's a waiting list of prominent Americans offering themselves for arrest.
Flip Webb, Washington.